No concern for Hasler over first hit-out
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler was unworried about the club's first up 24-20 trial loss to the Penrith Panthers on Saturday night, also unfazed by the injury clouds that remain over star duo Brett Morris and Will Hopoate.
Hopoate limped off the field just before half-time in the Bulldogs' four-point loss with an apparent jarred knee, and much like his NRL teammates failed to return for the second half.
Scoring a try during the trial Hopoate was solid without being outstanding at fullback.
With Hopoate being a replacement for an injured Brett Morris, who could be sidelined for the first month of the season with a knee complaint, Hasler said they will both be right for Round 1.
"It's just a cork, he just jarred it, so we just pulled [Hopoate] off as a precaution. He played OK, it was just good to get everyone out there for 40 minutes," Hasler said.
"We're pretty sure [Morris will] start the season. It's just about maintenance.
"[Overall the trial] was a good chance for everyone from both sides to have a game. A couple of them have a few bumps and bruises but everything is OK.
"It was just a matter of getting out there. It's been a long off-season so it's all about getting on to the footy field and playing a little bit."
Hasler though talked down any concerns over the side's goal-kicking efforts in life after Trent Hodkinson, with the Bulldogs – between Moses Mbye and Kerrod Holland –converting only 50 per cent of their attempts.
"But even Trent would've said he only kicked at 66 per cent," Hasler said.
"It's something we're conscious of, but it's only a trial."
Hasler went on to shut down any talk of Mbye's performance against the Panthers too, with a 40-minute stint including two try assists not enough to warrant any public acknowledgements from the Bulldogs mentor.